Science in the Bible
Mankind has always been curious about why things are the way they are. In its infancy, the human race had no way of understanding the world around them. That is until a select few started observing the environment and working out explanations for different phenomena. I'm constantly amazed at how the ancient scientists, using very archaic methods, reached certain level of truth by their observations.
I believe that religion appeared as a medium by which these scientists could explain their findings to their fellow men. There seemed to be an order in the universe, a force that made everything fall perfectly into place. They called this force God.
Of course, many of the early scientists' observations were way off, but some of them are scarily accurate. I'm going to focus on the myth of creation as written in the book of Genesis. Here's a comparison between that myth and the current understanding of the beginning of the universe:
Order of creation in the bible:
- Creation of the heavens and the earth. (existing yet shapeless)
- Creation of light
- Creation of the seas
- Creation of land
- Creation of plants
- Creation of the sun and the moon
- Fish and birds
- The rest of the animals
- Creation of man
Now, lets take a look at the scientific version:
- The Big Bang happens. Immediately afterwards, The four fundamental forces are established (one of them is electromagnetism, of which light is a part).
- As matter in the universe aggregates, the solar system forms. At first, the earth's surface was a volcanic chaos, but slowly it cooled off, and oceans and continents came to be.
- Jumping ahead a millions of years, life appeared in the oceans. This life slowly evolved into all kinds of marine creatures, including fish.
- The first forms of life to colonize land were plants. They flourished in the ancient continents. Animals followed and diversified into multiple species.
- After all of this, a very special species evolved from the apes. Man was born.
Of course, in the first version this all happened in six days. But if you ignore that bit, the two aren't that different. What amazes me is that the authors of Genesis, more than 3000 years ago, had a basic understanding of the history of the universe. They somehow reached the conclusion that the earth was shapeless at first, and that light was one of the first things to come into existence. They knew that plants colonized the earth before the animals did, and that the first animals were marine creatures (well, they were wrong about the birds being there at the same time, but lets cut them some slack). They place the appearance of man as the last event to take place in creation.
Is all of this a coincidence?
Speaking of men, I find that the author of Genesis could also have believed on the transformation of ape to man. The whole "Tree of wisdom" and its forbidden fruit could be interpreted as the detachment of man from its innocent, unthinking, unashamed, instinctual self, leaving behind the simple life of an animal and taking on the woes of the human being, like work, and emotional and spiritual suffering.
I don't mean to say that the bible contains all truth, but it sure is a glimpse into the mind of the bronze age man and its views on the universe. Some of these views are interesting foundations of both natural and social sciences, public health, among other things.
A lot of people claim that the Bible is the word of God, and that all that's in it is true. These people should take a closer look, because they usually overlook the parts that do make some serious sense.